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Unformatted text preview: BHS - The ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ –
ethological aspects of lovesickness. Diplomarbeit zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades
Magister der Naturwissenschaften an der Universität Wien.
Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Stadtethologie,
Institut für Humanbiologie der Universität Wien
eingereicht von Michael Bechinie – Wien, im Juni 1998 contact
www.come.to/my.sciencepage/ -1- © Roy Lichtenstein. Courtesey Castelli Gallery. © W. J. Youden ‘In a relationship, it is better to be the leaver
than the leavee.’
Joe in ‘Everyone Says I Love You’,
directed by Woody Allen 1996 -2- CONTENT (1) Acknowledgements p. 3 (2) Abstract p. 3 (3) Keywords p. 3 (4) Introduction p. 4 - 18 (5) Objectives p. 18 - 19 (6) Methods p. 20 - 25 (7) Results p. 26 - 35 (8) Summary – Discussion – Conclusions p. 36 - 43 (9) References p. 43 - 48 (10) Appendices p. 49 - 56 (11) Curriculum vitae p. 57 -3- (1) A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
I would like to thank Karl Grammer for supervising my MA thesis all the time and
providing me with all technical and computing facilities, especially for his ‘divine
tool‘ Alysis (e-motion) and all related programs, all participants from the ’Thursday
seminar‘ over the years and their constructive comments to my thesis, Katrin Schäfer
for talking with me about the importance of differences in similarity between
partners, Astrid Jütte for gossiping about this and that and everything, Bernie
Wallner telling me details about the endocrinology of stress, Raphael Barth for his
hints to references about the physiology of attachment, Svere Sjölander for discussing
details of my thesis with me, Wolfgang Schleidt for telling me about Bowlby, the
Harlows and Suomi and his critical thoughts, all participants of this study for talking
about their darkest feelings and their lovesickness, my parents for supporting me
with all kind of material and non material goods during my study years, my brother
Chris who helped my bridging my ‘logical traps’, my wife Karin who gave me all her
generous love and encouragement that helped me finally to bring my thesis to an
end and at last but not least Jakob & Kilian, my little sons, who always spare me a
warm hug and a bright smile. (2) A B S T R A C T
In this study the author tried to chose a multiple approach to lovesickness, based on
biological theories with emphasis on ethological concepts of research. Hypothesis
about the experience, course and functionality of lovesickness covered cognitive,
emotional and behavioural aspects. The relation of various mate choice parameters to
the perception of lovesickness has been discussed in a sociobiological framework.
Concerning ethological aspects of lovesickness the author could show a relation
between emotional status after separation and ’quality‘ of performed behaviour
(motion), using a ‘non semantic approach’ to behavioural analysis. The author
discussed the possible functionality of lovesickness in a framework of
communicational and evolutionary theory and proposed that lovesickness could
have an adaptive value. Last but not least the author introduced BHS, the ’Broken
Heart Syndrome‘ covering lovesickness and its related properties. This thesis can
also be found at the internet http://come.to/my.sciencepage/ (3) K E Y W O R D S
lovesickness, depression, mate value, similarity, broken heart syndrome, non
semantic approach, behavioural analysis, courtship, non verbal communication,
automatic movie analysis, quality of motion, motion energy detection -4- (4) I N T R O D U C T I O N
4.1. Theoretical considerations
4.1.1 A short history of ‘love and sex research’.
For a very long time the term ‘love’ was only associated with a deep emotional
feeling. Love and all accompanying things were seen as ‘untouchable’ things with a
mystic flavour, and were praised in all manner of art forms through the ages. Love is
still one of the most popular themes in pop music and literature.
Scientists, however, discovered ‘love’ as an interesting topic of research far more
recently. In the late 1940s and the beginning 1950s, the studies of Alfred Kinsey and
his associates on male and female sexual behaviour (KINSEY et al. 1948, 1953) initiated
a boom in scientific research on human sexuality. In the mid 1960s, William Masters
and Virginia Johnson continued this research with studies on ‘human sexual
response’ (MASTERS AND JOHNSON 1966). Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeld published his book
Love and Hate, an ethological study of reverse emotions (EIBL-EIBESFELD 1970); in 1970,
Zuck Rubin published his groundbreaking study Measurement of romantic love,
establishing love as a serious topic of scientific inquiry (RUBIN 1970). In the late 1970s,
Donald Symons wrote his book The evolution of human sexuality’ (SYMONS 1979), which
pointed ‘love and sex research’ in a new direction by focusing on anthropological
and evolutionary questions. In the 1980s, much research was done about ‘behaviour
and strategies of human mating’, with a new emphasis on sociobiological theories of
human sexuality (e.g. BUSS & BARNES 1986, BUSS 1989). In the late 1980s, a new boom
of ethological studies about ‘human mating behaviour’ and ‘flirting’ was initiated
which still continues (e.g. GRAMMER 1989 and 1990, KRUCK 1989). Throughout the
1990s, questions concerning cross-cultural perspectives on love and sex have been
the focus of discussion (JANKOWIAK & FISHER 1992, JANKOWIAK 1995, HATFIELD &
RAPSON 1996). In addition, several book-length reviews of current research have been
published: Susan and Clyde Hendrick, for example, wrote an overview Romantic love
(HENDRICK & HENDRICK 1992). Elaine Hatfield and Richard Rapson compiled
information about in their Love, sex and intimacy in psychology, biology and history
(HATFIELD & RAPSON 1993). At the same time, Karl Grammer published his book
Signale der Liebe about the biological constraints of love which showed the strong
influence of ethological research (GRAMMER 1993).
4.1.2 Lovesickness – a taboo in scientific research?
However, most of ‘love and sex research’ through all the ages has mainly focused on
the positive aspects of love; the negative aspects and problems co-occurring with
love as a topic of research have been largely neglected (DUCK 1994). Most studies
conducted dealt with divorce, while studies about the break up of ‘romantic
relationships or love affairs’ (partners are not married) are still rare (e.g. HILL et al.
1979). The phenomenon called ‘lovesickness’, or a ‘broken heart’, however, has
remained almost completely neglected. If one opens an issue of any society magazine
or tabloid paper, several stories about ‘lovesickness’ or ‘breaking hearts’ can be
found. Such journalistic accounts mostly contain personal statements of ‘victims’
and how they overcame their crises. In contrast, only a few scientific studies deal
with the subject to a greater or lesser extent. -5- 4.1.3 What do we know about lovesickness?
In 1979 Dorothy Tennov published a book entitled Love and Limerence – the experience
of being in love (TENNOV 1979). She based her book on interviews with students.
Limerence describes the circumstances of falling or being in love and is comparable
to the concept of ‘passionate love’ (HATFIELD & RAPSON 1993, p. 33 ff.). In contrast to
previous works, Tennov’s book focused more on a person’s emotional and cognitive
experiences of another person than on the actual relationship itself. These
experiences are in turn characterised by physiological reactions, intensive thinking
about the other, rapidly changing moods, fear of rejection, etc. Limerence resides
mainly in ideas and fantasies about another person, the ‘limerent object’. This
concept is closely related to what is known as infatuation (passion without intimacy
or commitment, STERNBERG 1988, p.122).
A second, highly speculative book, The chemistry of love, was written by
Psychiatrist Michael Liebowitz in the early 1980s (LIEBOWITZ 1983). In it, Liebowitz
argues that passionate feelings are comparable to an amphetamine high and that
Phenylethylamin (PEA), an amphetamine like substance in the human brain, may be
related to feelings of romantic love. Thus the crash that comes after the break-up of a
relationship may be similar to amphetamine withdrawal. Drug addicts and ‘love
addicts’ seem to have something in common (LIEBOWITZ 1983, FORMAN 1987).
Lovesickness in this sense is considered to be an epiphenomenon of the separation
process. Liebowitz also offers a very interesting remark on emotional difficulties that
do not fit traditional diagnostics. He discusses a subtype of depression – ‘hysteroid
dysphoric’ – that had first been introduced by Donald Klein. These people
continually fall in and out of love. When in love, people are euphoric, full of energy;
they worship their partners and they are very sociable. When the relationships end,
they suffer a complete break down, and behave in the opposite way: they feel awful,
overeat, sleep too long and avoid social contacts. The ‘hysteroid’ period is very
similar to an amphetamine high, whereas the ‘dysphoric’ period parallels a
withdrawal from amphetamine. These people, Klein suggested, were individuals
whose crucial problem was their immense sensitivity to rejection (LIEBOWITZ 1983,
Roy Baumeister’s and Sara Wotman’s controversial book Breaking Hearts explores
‘unrequited love’ from both perspectives – that of the rejected and that of the rejecter
(BAUMEISTER & WOTMAN 1992). Their worked was based on stories written by college
students. The authors asked the students to write two stories of unrequited love, one
about a personal experience in the role of the rejected and another in the role of the
rejecter. Surprisingly, they conclude that the rejecters suffer more. They feel guilty at
first, but later on they feel trapped and sometimes even persecuted.
More recently two studies about ‘real lovesickness’ have been published:
A psychoanalytically-oriented one written by Gertrude Gahleitner-Senger
(GAHLEITNER-SENGER 1992) and a psychological study by Wilma Mert (MERT 1995).
Gahleitner-Senger conducted an interview-based, psychoanalytic study about the
role of ‘transitional objects’ after the break up of a relationship. The formation of a
‘transitional object’ in a critical life event strengthens the structure of the self. The
theoretical assumptions underlying her views on the transition process from the ‘old -6- identity’ to a ‘new identity’ are based on Bowlby’s theory of attachment and loss (see
later on). Gahleitner-Senger discovered five phases of transition (see table 1).
Table 1: Phases of transition in lovesickness according to Gahleitner-Senger 1992.
phase description 1.
Regression 5. Acceptance Instability of the old identity
Trying to keep in touch with the (ex)partner
External breakdown, transition object
Establishing a new identity As regards ‘lovesickness’, the self regresses to a developmental stage where it
received deep satisfaction. During the regression the self should have the ability to
reorganise. Senger describes four different types of formation of a ‘transition object’
(see table 2). Table 2: Types of transition objects according to Gahleitner-Senger 1992.
object description 1.
3. Oral factor
Sex factor 4. Substitution factor Increased ingestion
Increased inclination to nicotine, alcohol and drugs
Increased sexuality to satisfy the desire for intimacy and
Increased social contacts, activities and hobbies The ability of the person abandoned to establish a ‘transition object’ of any type
shortens the period of mourning. Consequently, people with lovesickness seem to
behave, feel and show symptoms like people who suffer from grief. According to
Senger, lovesickness would function to re-establish a stable self.
Mert performed an interview study in which she focused on different strategies
for coping with lovesickness and its related stress. For coping with stress she found
differences between the sexes; men rather engage in ‘cocooning’: they accept their
fate and allow the situation to ‘fade away’, whereas women bridge the situation with
increased active social contacts, they seek social support. In addition, Mert shows
that the self-image undergoes certain ambiguous changes (e.g. increased selfconfidence, increased fear of coming relationships), which in some cases remain
(MERT 1995). -7- 4.1.4 A taxonomy of lovesickness.
After browsing different papers and books dealing with ‘lovesickness’, the reader
remains with an uncertain feeling of how to define ‘lovesickness’. In the literature
four types of lovesickness are discussed (see table 3).
Table 3: Different types of lovesickness.
type description LTI Lovesickness type I LTII Lovesickness type II LTIII Lovesickness type III LTIV Lovesickness type IV Refers to a past relationship - the broken heart, a
Refers to a not yet established relationship, or to a not
re-established relationship - unrequited love,
limerence, a negative experience.
Refers to an intensely passionate style of love - being
‘nuts on love’, a positive experience.
Refers to a continually switching between falling in
love and falling out of love - ‘hysteroid dysphoria’, an
ambiguous experience. This study will deal only with ‘Lovesickness type I’, the broken heart phenomenon.
Further the only plausible and consistent definition of lovesickness so far can be
found in Gahleitner-Senger 1992:
Liebeskummer ist ein, mit intensiven psychischen und physiologischen
Reaktionen verbundener Zustand einer Person, deren Streben nach seelischkörperlicher Vereinigung vom Liebesobjekt zurückgewiesen wird und im Falle
des endgültigen Verlustes des Liebesobjektes mit einem Prozeß des Trauern
einhergeht. Gelingt die Trauerarbeit nicht, besteht die Gefahr einer Fixierung
auf die depressive Verstimmtheit, sowie des Verlustes der Liebes-, Kontaktund Arbeitsfähigkeit.
Gahlteitner-Senger 1992, p.99 4.1.5 The anthropology of lovesickness
It seems to be commonly accepted that lovesickness is the reverse side of the the coin
of the emotion called love. Separation, rejection, obsession and grief are the costs of
(romantic) love. In preparing the references for this study, the author performed a
search in various ethnographic data bases.
Casting a quick glance at the literature on the motive of lovesickness (all three
types), one notices that scattered but recurrent cross-cultural stories about
lovesickness seem to exist. Search results suggest that various forms of lovesickness
have been reported over the ages, among all kinds of ethnic groups. The data also
show that often suicide was the only ‘solution’ to overcome disappointed love. More
recently, Jankowiak reported in his book Romantic Passion about the existence of
India’s Society for the Study of Broken Hearts, which was founded in 1992. He writes
that the -83rd of May is national Broken Hearts Day, [which is] for the romantically
disappointed and the love rejected to commiserate with one another.
Jankowiak 1995, p.5 Jankowiak’s book concludes that ‘romantic love’ is a human universal. The more
significant question in the current context would be whether or not lovesickness is a
universal experience as well. Jankowiak again:
Perhaps a stronger argument for romantic love’s universality can be found in
the widespread cross-cultural fear of rejection and love’s loss.
Jankowiak 1995, p.5 Lovesickness should also be an human universal, and therefore worthy of further
4.1.6 Psychological precursors of lovesickness.
There is no consistent theory about the psychological mechanisms of lovesickness.
Even in the understanding of a phenomenon like divorce, solutions derive from
known concepts like ‘attachment’, ‘detachment’, ‘bereavement’, ‘grief’ and
‘mourning’. All these terms are associated with the experience of any form of ‘loss’,
which seems to be a good starting point for understanding lovesickness as well. Most
theories in this field can be related to the work of Bowlby, Ainsworth, Harry and
Margaret Harlow and Suomi & Zimmerman.
Bowlby (BOWLBY 1969, 1973, 1980) studied the process of attachment, separation and
loss in children. He formulated in his attachment theory that normal attachment is
crucial to healthy development. Appropriate attachments in infancy play an
important role in a person’s ability to form stable relationships later in life.
Attachment develops gradually and is facilitated by interaction between the mother
and the infant. On the basis of Darwinian, evolutionary theory, Bowlby suggested
that attachment behaviour ensures that adults protect their infants. Thus the process
of attachment not only occurs in every human social group but also in other
organismic groups. Ethological studies show that subhuman primates and many
other animals perform attachment behaviour patterns that are presumed to be
instinctual and ruled by inborn tendencies. A referring system is seen in imprinting,
where attachment happens during a short (some hours), so called sensitive or critical
period. A similar period has been postulated for human infants, although its
presence is highly controversial. However this critical period occurs over a span of
years, rather than hours. According to Bowlby attachment develops in four phases
(see table 4). -9- Table 4: Bowlby’s 4 phase process of attachment.
phase age description 1 Preattachment stage birth to 8 or 12 weeks 2 Attachment-in-themaking
Clear-cut attachment 8 to 12 weeks to 6
6 months thorough 24
months Independence of mother
figure 25 months and beyond The new-born orients towards its mother,
follows her with its eyes and moves
rhythmically with her voice.
The infant becomes attached to one or more
The infants cries and shows other signs of
distress when separated from the caretaker
(mother). On being returned to the mother the
infant stops crying and clings.
The infant distinguishes between it self and the
mother figure and a more complex
relationship between the mother and the child
can develop. 3 4 Ainsworth (AINSWORTH 1978, 1979) expanded on Bowlby’s observations and
concentrated on the interaction between the mother and her baby. She discovered
that the ‘quality’ of these interactions influences the baby’s current and future
behaviour. Sensitive responsiveness to infant signals (e.g. cuddling when the baby is
crying), causes infants to cry less later on. Close bodily contact on demand is
associated with the growth of self-reliance. Unresponsive mothers produce anxious
and emotionally immature babies. Ainsworth verified that attachment reduces
anxiety. The formation of a ‘secure base’ via attachment enables the child to leave the
attachment figure and explore the environment.
The Harlows (HARLOW & HARLOW 1965), Zimmerman (HARLOW & ZIMMERMAN
1959) and Suomi (SUOMI & HARLOW 1975) studied the development of love in
monkeys and they discovered that contact comfort for (monkey) infants is far more
important than previously considered. They demonstrated the effects in monkeys
when they were kept from forming attachments at all. The isolates were withdrawn,
unable to relate to peers, unable to mate, and incapable of caring for their offspring.
More recently, theories have also focused on neurobiological and
endocrinological processes leading to ‘psychobiological theories’ of ‘attachment and
loss’ (BENTON 1990, GILBERT 1989, INSEL 1991 and 1992, RICHARD et al. 1991, KRAEMER
1992, PANKSEPP 1992).
126.96.36.199 Separation anxiety
Depending on a child’s developmental stage and phase of attachment, a short
episode of separation from its caretaker (mother) produce intense anxiety. It is a
‘normal’ reaction and most common at 10 to 18 months of age and disappears by the
end of the third year.
188.8.131.52 Behavioural response to a longer period of separation
Bowlby again described a predictable pattern of behaviour performed by children
who are separated from their mothers for long periods of time (at least three
months); see table 5. - 10 - Table 5: Bowlby’s phases of separation and corresponding patterns of behaviour.
phase description 1 Protest 2 Despair 3 Detachment The child shows protest against the event of
separation by crying, calling and seeking for the
The child lose hope that the mother will ever
The child emotionally separates itself from the
mother. These phase is accompanied by
ambiguous feelings – at the same time the child
wants its mother and is angry at her for the
abandonment. 184.108.40.206 Grief, mourning and bereavement
All three terms address behavioural patterns of persons who endured a critical loss.
‘Grief’ is a complex emotions associated with the death of a beloved person. In
colloquial speech grief is used synonymously with ‘mourning’, although mourning
in the strict sense is the reaction by which grief is resolved. ‘Bereavement’ describes
the state of being abandoned of someone by death and the state of mourning. All
three terms show a great overlap in its emotional, somatic, cognitive, motivational
and behavioural manifestations.
Grief in general can occur after a variety of different losses. They can include the loss
of a job, loss of status, loss of a beloved person and of course the loss of a intimate
relationship. As described by Bowlby (BOWLBY 1961), and later on by Parkes (PARKES
1965, 1969, 1971, PARKES & WEISS 1983) grief follows a more or less stable pattern
with different phases (see table 6).
Table 6: Comparison between Bowlby’s and Parkes’ concept of the grief process.
5 Parkes Numbness
Recovery, Reorganisation 4.1.7 A more pragmatic ethological approach to lovesickness.
220.127.116.11 Human mating strategies and attachment.
On the one hand the ‘quality’ of early attachment is crucial to the ability to form
stable relationships at all and the ability to deal with any forms of loss (see also
MIKULINCER & EREV 1991). On the other hand stable relationships, from a biological
point of view, are crucial to reproductive success of both sexes. - 11 - However, the function of courtship is optimising reproductive success of the
individuals involved. Sexual selection is driven by asymmetrical parental investment
in their offspring. So females and males should follow different mating strategies
(TRIVERS 1972). In humans and other mammals costs to females are higher than to
males, because fertilisation occurs internally within females as gestation does.
Females can reduce their mating costs by male assistance and on the other hand
they can optimise their reproductive success by being more choosy and inducing
sperm competition in males (BAKER & BELLIS 1995). They should show greater
interest in maintaining a stable relationship with a male and try to force them to
invest in their offspring. Therefore females should prefer males who are able to
provide resources related to parental investment, such as food, refuge, territory and
protection. Among humans resources are typically translated into economic status.
This suggests that females will chose males with higher status, signalling their
potential access to various resources.
Female choice and asymmetrical parental investment leads to intrasexual
competition among males through sexual advertisement (MAYNARD SMITH 1974,
TRIVERS 1972). Reproduction for males is limited by access to reproductively valuable
or fertile mates. Because fertility and reproductive value are linked in females males
will value relative youth and physical attractiveness in potential mates (SYMONS
1979). In contrast to the females males cannot insure that their investment is directed
toward their own offspring and not the offspring of another male. So sexual jealousy
in males is one mechanism which works against possible female philandering,
preventing male cuckoldry (DALY et al. 1982).
An alternative strategy to increase reproductive success of the male would be
practising philandering, too.
In sum a woman’s ‘mate value’ should be determined more by their reproductive
capacity. So physical appearance and youth should be more highly valued by men. A
man’s ‘mate quality’ would be more determined by the ability to provide resources
and therefore more highly valued by women. These predicted sex differences in
human mate preferences were tested and could be verified in 37 cultures by Buss. In
all discovered cultures the ability to form stable relationships ranked first in both
sexes. As predicted men preferred female attractiveness rather then female status
and women favoured male status rather than male attractiveness (BUSS 1989, 1994).
The quality of a relationship seems to be determined by the proverb ‘birds of
feather flock together’. The more mates resemble the longer the relationship will last
and the more stable it will be. This form of mate choice is called ‘positive assortative
mating strategy’. Mates are similar in origin, physical appearance, age, religion,
social status and personality traits (see multiple references in GRAMMER 1993, p.378408; HENSS 1992). Overall love’s proximate function is to ensure closeness between
the mates and thus the ability to control each other (GRAMMER 1993).
18.104.22.168 Consequences of detachment and loss.
Thus if a relationship breaks up, and if positive assortative mating happens, the
perceived severity should be affected by the amount of intimacy and similarity
between the mates. An other modulating factor for the severity of the perceived loss,
or even the decision leaving the relationship at all, could be ‘mate value’ itself. To test - 12 - this assumptions a rating study of subjects’ faces was performed (details see methods
Going even further and following the concept of the ‘unity of the human psyche’
any form of loss, e.g. of a relationship, will cause distress on all systems’ levels of the
human psyche (see details in section 4.2 ff.). Therefore responses to stressful life
events expresses throughout the psychological, physiological and behavioural level.
A large number of studies have explored the physiological processes underlying
various forms of mood disorders, including depression, anxiety states, disorders of
maternal and peer group affiliative behaviour, detachment, separation and even
suicide. The data reported are most consistent with the fact that mood disorders are
associated with heterogeneous dysregulations of the biogenic amines. Abnormal
levels of their metabolites – such as 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA),
homovanillic acid (HVA), and 3-methoxy-4hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) – in blood,
urine, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) could be discovered. Neurotransmitters
included in this processes are norepinephrine (NE), serotonine (5HT), dopamine
(DA), GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) and probably acetycholine. Some investigators
have suggested that second-messenger systems – such as adenylat cyclase,
phosphotidylinositol, and calcium regulation – may also have relevance.
Furthermore there are strong evidences for the involvement of neuroendocrine
systems – such as the adrenal- and thyroid axis, and the regulation of growth
hormone release. At last researchers have reported immunological abnormalities in
patients with mood disorders. The dysregulation of the cortisol axis may modify the
immune status; there may be abnormal hypothalamic regulation of the immune
system (see KAPLAN et al. 1994, p.518 ff., KREAMER 1992 and GILBERT 1989 p.128 ff. for
However, all these changes on the psychobiological levels occurring after
separation, which invokes a biphasic response sequence usually referring to as
protest-despair, manifest in changed patterns of behaviour. Thus these changes can
be accessed via observation.
4.1.8 The role of depression and suicide
Helpful in understanding lovesickness is fact that the ending of a romantic
relationship is closely associated with two serious disturbances: depression and
suicide. In Gahleitner-Sengers study, 69 percent of the participants showed
depressive annoyance (GAHLEITNER-SENGER 1992) after separation. In 1991, Means
interviewed college students who had just been abandoned. That study showed that
40 percent of the students were clinically depressed (MEANS 1991).
Heikkinen, Aro and Jouko published an article in 1993 in which they reviewed the
literature on life events and social support in suicide. A recurring motive for suicide
seems to be bereavement (HEIKKINEN et al. 1993). In most cases, as they report,
depression would be a mediating factor between bereavement and suicide.
Heikinnen and his colleagues promoted a systemic process model of suicide. - 13 ... suicide can be considered as a time-advancing process that is affected by
complex biological, psychological, social, cultural and societal factors. Longterm risk factors can be outlined during the life course and within the suicide
process both at the populational and at the individual level.
Heikinnen et al. 1993, p.344 They argue further that adverse life events – e.g. loss – are risk factors which can
trigger an outburst of suicidal intent. The counterpart are protective factors, e.g.
strong social support systems, which operate against suicidal intent. During one’s life
history, the equilibrium between risk and protective factors can vary. Thus
lovesickness, along with bereavement and social loss, seems to be a high risk factor.
This view is supported by two other recent studies.
Hawton et al. investigated attempted suicides in Oxford University students. The
The most common problems faced by the students at the time of their attempts
were interpersonal, particularly concerning difficulties with partners....
Hawton et al. 1995, p.187. Within the ten highest ranked problems for all students ‘Break-up with partner’
ranked fifth (24 %, N=177). When problems were ranked by major areas of difficulty,
‘Interpersonal’ ranked first with 83 % of cases (HAWTON et al. 1995).
BRENT et al. 1993 discovered in a case control study of 67 adolescent suicide
victims and 67 matched controls that:
In the year before death, suicide completers were more likely to have
experienced: (1) interpersonal conflict with partners and with boy/girlfriends,
(2) disruption of a romantic relationship, (3) legal or disciplinary problems.
Brent et al. 1993, p.179 In the study’s overall frequency of stressful life events, interpersonal loss of
boy/girlfriend reached 40% among the sample as against 20% in the control group.
4.1.9 Lovesickness and maladaptation
22.214.171.124 Is lovesickness a syndrome?
There are very few ‘hard facts’ known about lovesickness. Neither well-founded
physiological mechanisms, nor underlying intra-psychic processes have been
discovered yet. Very different coping styles, depending on personality structure and
sex, are used to overcome the loss. At any rate, psychological and phylogenetic
‘origins’ of lovesickness remain in the dark. In light of this, could lovesickness, given
the current state of scattered knowledge, handled best as a syndrome?
126.96.36.199 Is lovesickness a disorder at all?
Bereavement per se seems to suggest few analytical difficulties and is not viewed as a
mental disorder. It is the ‘normal’ pattern of reaction after the loss of a beloved
person. Similarly, a loss of (romantic) love will be succeeded by lovesickness. So the
question that arises is whether lovesickness is a disorder or not. - 14 - In official diagnostic manuals for mental disorders (e.g. DSM III, American
Psychiatric Association 1987), lovesickness is not listed explicitly. A feasible
approach would seem to be to locate clinical symptoms of known disorders
associated with bereavement, which are similar to those shown by people with
lovesickness. In combination with results from depression and suicide research,
lovesickness could then probably be integrated into the section ‘mood disorder’ of
standard diagnostic manuals.
As shown above, lovesickness seems to be an cross cultural phenomenon, and no
process of natural selection ‘eliminated’ the ‘disorder’. This would suggest that
lovesickness could have an adaptive value.
I will conclude the theoretical considerations with a quote by Michael Liebowitz.
At this point many of you must be asking yourself: ‘So someone gets depressed
after a romantic breakup, or feels good if the lover with whom they’ve had a
fight calls the next day. What makes this a psychiatric disorder? If it is, aren’t
we all hysteroid dysphorics?’
Liebowitz 1983, p. 167 4.2 Methodological considerations
4.2.1 Compound approach to lovesickness
Current data about human behaviour are mostly acquired through psychological
studies. They are normally conducted with questionnaires and experiments. Studies
with ‘behavioural real time field observation’ can hardly be found in the ‘scientific
world of psychology’. As a consequence, these studies are often motivated by
questions either about ‘emotions’ or about ‘cognition’, regardless of ‘real time
The current study has tried to choose a compound approach to human behaviour
which, however, focuses on a special aspect – lovesickness. This approach covers all
three levels – emotion, cognition and behaviour – following the idea of the ‘unity of
the human psyche’.
The connection between ‘feeling’, ‘thinking’ and ‘acting’ has already been
discussed by various scientist (see following reference in CIOMPI 1982; p.45, 46),
Freud in his Entwurf einer Psychologie (FREUD 1895) and Traumdeutung (FREUD 1900)
and Piaget in his Die Psychologie des Kindes (PIAGET & INHELDER 1966). The Swiss
psychiatrist Luc Ciompi has combined Freud’s psychoanalytic views about emotions
and affects with Piaget’s ‘genetische Epistomologie’ and formulated his Logik der
Affekte (CIOMPI 1982). An important aspect of Ciompis ‘Affektlogik’ is that he embeds
his theory in the framework of ‘systems theory’. The main point in this theory is a
shift of perception, from watching isolated system features to looking at a system as a
whole. The core of Systems theory was formulated by Ludwig Bertalanffy, an
Austrian biologist (BERTALANFFY 1928 and 1950, see reference in CIOMPI 1982, p.17)
and J.G. Miller who defined ‘system’ as a ‘set’ of elements which are connected to - 15 - each other, while the state of every element is determined by the state of all other
elements (MILLER 1975, see reference in CIOMPI 1982, p.18). Ciompi states:
Es scheint kein Zweifel mehr zu bestehen, daß es eine ‘AffektLogik’ gibt, das
heißt, daß unsere psychische Wirklichkeit, unser erleben in jedem Moment
sowohl affektive wie kognitive Elemente umfaßt, die unzertrennlich
zusammengehören und sich auch gemeinsam strukturieren.
Ciompi 1982, p. 90,91 From this point of view, lovesickness is then viewed as a manifestation of the human
psyche, expressed through three cross-referring systems: emotion, cognition and
behaviour. For purposes of simplification, lovesickness can be designated as a
‘behaviour’. If lovesickness is a behaviour, it can be studied in ‘real time’ with
scientific methods. In this case, ethological methods are the appropriate tool.
Ethology can be briefly defined as the application of orthodox methods to the
problems of behaviour.
Lorenz 1960a (see reference in Lehner 1996, p. 2) 4.2.2. Orthodox versus non-orthodox behavioural methodologies
Methodologically, this study subscribes to Tinbergen’s four areas of study in
ethology: Function, causation, ontogeny and evolution (TINBERGEN 1963).
Traditionally ethology codes behaviour with systems of discrete categories.
Behaviour is either described empirically or functionally. This process is known as
‘repertoire analysis’, leading to an ‘ethogramm’ with various more or less semantic
descriptions of behaviour. This ‘orthodox’ position in the study of animal
communication is based on the sign stimulus/releaser – fixed action pattern concept.
The receiver decodes a distinct signal and then reacts. Contrary to Lorenz’s
definition, however, the current study has used ‘non-orthodox’ methods to study
After many years of behavioural research and many attempts to establish a
‘human ethogramme’, the fixed action pattern concept (LORENZ 1965, TINBERGEN
1953) for studying communication processes turned out to be insufficient, due to the
following reasons (see table 7). Table 7: Reasons for the insufficiency of the fixed action pattern concept (Grammer 1996).
7 The ‘meaning’ of signals is dependent upon too many parameters
Signals show high inter- and intra-individual variations
One signal can be substituted by an other
Signals are used independently from context
Nonverbal behaviour seems to be probabilistic
Nonverbal behaviour is ‘culture constrained’
One and the same behaviour can be performed with varied and
inconsistent ‘quality’ - 16 - A exemplary demonstration of this problem comes from Spencer:
A man lifts his arm. One simple action may have many ‘causes’. Is he directing
traffic or defending himself? Is he having a fit or is he dyskinetic? Our
explanations will have philosophical implications. The more involuntary we
regard the action as being, the more mechanistic will be our cause; the more
voluntary the action appears, the more likely will we be to invoke intentions
and purpose (and responsibility) in the subject. But how do we know which is
the more relevant and how do we deal with blurred distinctions? Is the
catatonic man who holds his arm in crucified pose acting intentionally or
mechanistically? Is he acting at all?
Spencer 1996 Thus much effort has gone into developing ‘non-orthodox methodologies’ which do
not rely on ‘semantics’. In the current study, a methodology of that kind, called MED
(Motion Energy Detection) has been used, which concentrates on the most genuine
feature of any behaviour – motion. It will be discussed briefly , later in the section
A non-semantic approach to behavioural analysis acquires data from so called
‘low level’ shares of either visual or acoustic information. In vision these are: motion,
contrast, colour and depth. It is assumed that these features transmit much more
information for cognitive systems than previously supposed (see GRAMMER et al.
1996 for a detailed discussion).
4.2.3 Behavioural data about lovesickness
There is no current behavioural data available on lovesickness. Instead, facts about
behavioural changes accompanying mood disorders (e.g. depression) can be found.
Most studies about the functionality of depression are based on neurology, more
particularly on neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. These studies suggest that
during depression the human brain is ‘dysfunctioning’, expressed through a reduced
cerebral blood flow (CBF) in different anatomical areas (CUMMINGS 1993, FLINT et
al.1993, GEORGE 1993 u.1997, ITO 1995, JARACZ 1996, KETTER 1997, KLEMM 1996,
MAYBERG 1994, YAZICI 1992). However, only a small number of studies focus on
behavioural aspects of depression.
One basic assumption in the rather outdated field of psychology known as the
‘psychology of expression’ is that a change in mood alters behavioural expression,
which can be observed (KIRCHHOFF 1965). This concept has been used by modern
researchers to describe behavioural changes e.g. during depression or recovery from
Schelde et al. and Pedersen et al. observed patients with endogenous depression
and recorded behavioural data using ‘repertoire analysis’ (142 different categories).
They discovered that during remission patients showed more behaviour, increased
visual contact, social contact, and more communicative intentions (SCHELDE et al.
1988, PEDERSEN et al. 1988).
Fisch, Frey and Hirsbrunner studied 19 patients diagnosed as having suffered
depression over a period of 9 months. They compared the patients’ movement - 17 - patterns performed at the onset of the therapy to them at the offset. The interview
sessions were videotaped and transcribed with a behavioural coding system, called
‘Bernese System (BTSN)’. It includes a repertoire with 55 different behavioural
dimensions, covering movements of the head, upper part of body, shoulders, upper
arms, hands, thighs and feet over time. The data were subsumed into three
parameters describing changes in any movement pattern (see table 8).
Table 8: Parameters which describe changes in movement patterns according to Fisch et al. 1983.
Dynamics of activation 1
How much time is spent in motion.
How many body parts are moved together.
How often movement patterns are induced and
terminated. The authors demonstrated that patients in remission showed increased mobility,
complexity and dynamics of activation, independently of the interviewer’s behaviour
(FISCH et al. 1983). Thus patients showed not only ‘more’ behaviour; their ‘movement
quality’ also changed, which reinforces the ‘non-semantic’ approach to behavioural
Atzwanger and Schmitt inspected the relationship between depression and
walking speed. They compared groups of subjects, classified according to Beck’s
depression inventory (BDI) and found a negative correlation between Beck score and
walking speed (ATZWANGER & SCHMITT 1996).
Similar results were obtained by Sloman et al. They measured the ground force
patterns of clinically depressed patients and showed that the push-off force was
reduced. In an other study they showed that ‘lower mood individuals’ resemble
clinically depressed individuals in behavioural performance (SLOMAN et al. 1982,
Finally, all these findings imply therapeutic consequences - physical exercise
(GREIST et al. 1978, 1979). Many clinical scientists today promote psychomotor
monitoring as an appropriate methodology in psychopathological questions (GREDEN
1993, FLINT et al. 1993, KUNY & STASSEN 1993, LATASH & ANSON 1996).
However, as previously mentioned, this study uses low level parameters for
behavioural description of motion units (see detailed information later on in the
section ‘methods’); see table 9.
Table 9: Parameters for description of movement units, used in this study.
4 description Emphasis
Number The amplitude of a movement unit
The length of a movement unit
The average speed of a movement unit
Total number of units over time - 18 - To conclude, the objective of this study was to develop a systematic approach to investigate
lovesickness, previously a taboo of empirical science, which would integrate emotion,
cognition and behaviour. (5) O B J E C T I V E S
The objective of this study was to develop a systematic approach to investigate
lovesickness. A major part of the study was devoted to exploring and describing
lovesickness in different areas. Most of these questions (see 5.1) were answered
within the ‘first level study’ (see 6.1).
Hypotheses (see 5.2) covering the relation between ‘mate quality’, similarity,
relationship parameters and depression were investigated within the ‘second level
study’ (see 6.2).
5.1 Hypotheses - first Level
5.1.1 Basic Emotions
(b) Which basic emotions are involved in lovesickness?
Hypothesis: Since lovesickness in this context is similar to the grief
reaction, mostly grief and fear should be involved.
Are there differences between the sexes (point a and b)?
Hypothesis: No predictions. 5.1.2 Psychology
(b) (c) Which changes within the emotional status of the participants
can be observed over time?
Hypothesis: No predictions.
What role does self-reported ‘emotional intimacy’ (closeness)
between the partners play in relation to emotional status after
abandonment and to duration of the relationship?
Hypothesis I: No predictions, except depression (see c, Hypothesis III).
Hypothesis II: The higher the degree of closeness between partners the
longer the relationship lasted.
What part does depression play in lovesickness?
Hypothesis I: Subjects with lovesickness are in a depressionlike
situation. Therefore, the more recently separation has occurred, the
more depressed the subjects are.
Hypothesis II: Does the duration of the relationships function as an
intervening variable? The longer the relationship lasted, the more
depressed the subjects are.
Hypothesis III: Does ‘emotional intimacy’ have an effect on the score for
depression? Was the higher the intimacy, the higher the score for
depression? - 19 - (d)
(e) How is suicide (suicidal ideation) related to lovesickness?
Hypothesis I: Suicidal thoughts should play a major part in
Are there differences between the sexes (point a, b, c and d)?
Hypothesis: No prediction. 5.1.3 Behaviour
188.8.131.52 Nonverbal behaviour
How are changes in emotional status related to changes in
nonverbal behaviour, especially to depression?
Hypothesis: Quality features (emphasis, duration, speed and total
number of movement units) of movement units decrease in amount
with increasing depression.
Are there sex differences in quality features?
Hypothesis: No predictions
184.108.40.206 Speech – Prosodic
How are changes in emotional status related to changes in
prosodic, especially to depression?
Hypothesis: Quality features (emphasis, duration, speed and total
number of movement units) of prosodic units decrease in amount with
Are there sex differences in quality features?
Hypothesis: No predictions
5.2 Hypotheses - second level
5.2.1 Similarity – Mate Quality
(b) (c) Are similarities correlated between (ex)mates?
Hypothesis: Correlation coefficients between items differ in strength
Does similarity has an impact on the duration of the
Hypothesis: The more similar the mates are, the longer the relationship
Post hoc hypothesis:
Does ‘mate quality’ play a part in the decision to leave the relationship? - 20 - (6) M E T H O D S
The data were collected at the ‘Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethology’ c/o
‘Institute for Human Biology’ - University of Vienna. The study was primarily based
on a semistructured interview. The experimental design is structured into a first and
a second level study, where the first level study consists of three parts: the recording
of the cognitive, the emotional and the behavioural parameters. Participants were
asked for permission to use all material in research.
6.1 First level study 6.1.1 Definition of broken heart, or lovesickness.
Person A is engaged with person B in an intimate relationship. Person A is being left
by person B. After separation from person A, person B enters a state of cognitive,
emotional and behavioural turbulence. This results in an unstable psychobiological
state, which is called lovesickness.
6.1.2 Criteria for choosing subjects
The study considered subjects only if:
(a) the subject had been left by her or his partner in the relationship
(b) the relationship had lasted more than 2 months
(c) the separation had occurred sometime within 18 months of the interview
6.1.3 Description of subjects
The sample consisted of 22 subjects (11 female, 11 male), ranging in age from 18 to 30
years. The average age for the females was 22.4 years (SD= 2.2) and that for males
24.6 years (SD= 3.0).
6.1.4 Relationship parameters
The duration of the relationships ranged from 2 to 96 months, the average length for
the female was 27.7 months (SD= 27) and for the males 28.9 months (SD=26.1). The
time elapsed since separation ranged from 0.19 to 14 months. The average length of
time for the females was 3.3 months (SD= 2.9) and for the males 3.7 months (SD= 3.7).
6.1.5 Acquisition of cognitive parameters
All subjects underwent a semistructured interview (approx. 60 min.), consisting of
questions with predefined answering possibilities and questions with narrative
answering (see appendix -A-). - 21 - 6.1.6 Acquisition of emotional parameters
The emotional status of the subjects was recorded with a clinical selfreport test, the
‘Eigenschaftswörterliste-EWL’ according to JANKE & DEBUS 1978. The answering
scheme was changed from the original ‘ no-yes ‘ to a four point ordinal scale, in order
to obtain more differentiated results (see appendix -B-). The evaluation of the test
was not influenced by these modifications. Following the statistical instructions,
different indices were calculated: activation, concentration, deactivation, sleepiness,
dizziness, extroversion, introversion, self-confidence, elation, excitement, sensibility,
anger, fearfulness, depression, and dreaminess.
6.1.7 Acquisition of ‘emotional intimacy’(closeness) between the partners.
Participants were told to show their view of closeness to their ex-partners
retrospectively for the ‘high times’ of the relationship. The subjects used two circles
to depict the level of closeness (see figure1). Partner Subject Figure. 1: Acquisition of intimacy between
partners. The amount of overlap was calculated and expressed as percentage from full circle
6.1.8 Involvement of Emotions
The subjects were asked to rate (on a 7-point scale) a selection of different emotions
relevant for the description of lovesickness (see appendix -C-). The selection of the
emotions were based on EKMAN & FRIESEN 1978; see table 10.
Table 10: Emotions used for description of lovesickness by the subjects.
pain - 22 - 6.1.9 Acquisition of behavioural parameters Figure 2: The setting of interviewer,
subject and position of hidden video
camera. 220.127.116.11 The setting
The consulting room, arrangement of seating and
the camera location were identical for each
interview session. The subjects were
unobtrusively videotaped during the interview
situation (see figure 2). The videotapes were
analysed with ‘Automatic Movie Analysis
(AMA)’, done by a computer in order to assess
movement quality (Motion Energy Detection,
MED). Outcomes of behavioural data analyses
were related to questionnaire data (relationship,
cognitive and emotional parameters). 18.104.22.168 Automatic Movie Analysis (AMA)
The video sequence (approx. 30 sec.) analysed was that subsequent to the following
question in the interview: ‘What were the reasons for the separation?’ In the
following, the steps of the AMA procedure will be explained in brief (for details see
GRAMMER et al. 1996).
1. Digitising the clips
Every 30 sec. video clip was digitised with 25 frames/s (images and
sound) using a greyscale of 256 values (0=white, 256=black). For further
calculations 3 ROIs were used (Regions Of Interest: upper body, lower
body and whole body). AMA software allows one to choose and fix
different ROIs before starting the analysis. Z 2. Calculating difference pictures (Motion Energy Detection)
By subtracting frame by frame, the absolute change of every pixels
greyvalue can be traced over time. A difference picture consists of
many such greyvalues, ranging from zero (no change) to 256
(maximum change). The fluctuating greyvalues represent the amount of
change occurring from frame to frame. In this way, changes in the
object, contrasted against background, can be detected by the software.
3. Reducing noise
Normally white noise is produced randomly by inhomogeneous tape
quality, limitations to the camera resolution, errors through frame
capture technique, or slight changes in lightening conditions.
Consequently, each pixel represents the median greyvalue of the nine
pixels surrounding it (median filtering technique). Thus no ‘erratic
pixels’ are taken into account for further calculations. - 23 - 4. Calculating series of greydensity
The mean greyvalue of all pixels for each ROI was calculated. This
represents the total amount of a person’s movement between two
related frames. Plotted against time or frames, one obtains a series of
greydensities, each representing a difference picture.
5. Transformation of greydensities
To diminish the problem of different viewing angles of the person and
different greydensity base lines, greydensities were transformed to zscores.
6. Smoothing the data stream
In order to avoid small and short (single frame) changes of greydensity,
the signal was smoothed with a 5-point moving average.
7. Eliminating flashes
Flashes arise due to poor tape quality and electrical instability of the
recording equipment. They are recognised automatically and removed
after visual verification. The gap was filled by the average density of F-1
8. Thresholding and segmenting
For quantitative analysis, the continuous stream of greydensities is
segmented into units of movement. An movement unit is defined as the
threshold surplus from one threshold crossing to the following one.
Therefore an optimal-thresholding technique was used.
9. Calculation of variables
(a) Nonverbal behaviour
The quality of movement was described by 4 variables (see figure 3).
All variables are related to single movement units.
Emphasis: the amplitude of a movement unit’s flexion (unit size)
Duration: the length of a movement unit over time from one threshold
crossing to the following one.
Speed: the average speed of the moving area under the curve per unit of
time (duration divided through duration).
Number: total number of units over time.
(b) Speech prosodic
The same procedure was used for speech data to describe prosodic
features over time (envelope). - 24 - greyvalues changes 1,200 treshold
1 to 7 = number of units 1,000 4 0,800 6
emphasis 3 0,600
1 0,200 speed 2 duration 5 0,000 1 10 19 28 37 46 55 64 73 82 91 100 frames
Figure. 3: AMA output and description of variables. Figure 3 shows a graphically visualised output from AMA. Changes of greyvalues
are plotted against time (=frames). Further descriptions of the variables emphasis,
duration, speed and number of units are shown.
6.2 Second level Study - rating study of faces.
6.2.1 Description of subjects (raters)
The sample consisted of 33 raters (15 female, 18 male) ranging in age from 18 to 31
years. The average age for the females was 25.1 years (SD= 2.9) and that for males
21.6 years (SD= 2.3).
6.2.2 Rating of Faces
22.214.171.124 The setting
Photographs from the participants of the first level study were taken with a videostill camera. In addition, if possible the subjects made photos of their ex-partners
available. Finally, the set consisted of 42 photographs, that is, 21 pairs of faces. All
photos were digitised and converted to greyscale pictures. These pictures were fed
into a computer programme (‘Facetest’), in order to perform the rating study. The
results obtained were related to questionnaire data (relationship, cognitive and
emotional parameters). - 25 - 126.96.36.199 ‘Facetest’
Facetest is a computer programme for performing rating studies. Sets of pictures can
be loaded to rate with a set of either unipolar or bipolar adjectives. In this case 29
bipolar adjectives (see appendix -D-) were used, a selection from a larger set
developed by HENSS 1992. The scale between the two poles covered a 7-point range.
Pictures and items were both presented randomly on the screen. The rating was done
by clicking on the 7-point scale via computer-mouse. Every participant rated all 42
6.3 Statistical analysis
was done by computer with SPSS 7.0. - 26 - (7) R E S U L T S
Results are presented in same order as hypotheses before.
7.1 Hypotheses – first level
7.1.1 Basic Emotions
Which basic emotions are involved in lovesickness?
Hypothesis: Since lovesickness in this context is similar to the grief reaction, mostly
grief and fear should be involved. joy
1,00 / 2,4%
1,00 / 2,4%
4,50 / 10,8%
6,00 / 14,5% anger
5,00 / 12,0%
5,00 / 12,0% panic
5,00 / 12,0%
7,00 / 16,9% pain
7,00 / 16,9% Figure 4: Pie chart showing involvement of all emotions in lovesickness. The two most
prominent and the two least prominent slices are exploded. Values show median/percentage
as summary function for different variables. The results suggest that grief and pain rather than grief and fear are involved
(see figure 4). Joy and disgust seem to play either a marginal or no role in
To test these assumptions a Binomial Test was performed. Answers were
recorded into two groups. Group 1 contains all cases with rating values ≤ 4,
group 2 all cases with values > 4. The test proportion was assumed to be 0,5.
Medians for grief and pain are at 7 (=maximum value). Both emotions differ
significantly from random distribution (p=0.000). Joy and disgust can be
significantly excluded (p=0.000). All other emotions (anger, fear, panic,
surprise and rage) do not differ from random distribution between group 1
and 2. Table 11 shows the results of the Binomial Test. - 27 - Table 11: Results of the binomial test show which emotions are definitely involved in lovesickness.
The test proportion was assumed to be 0,5. Group 1 contains all cases with a rating ≤ 4 (supposed as
‘not relevant’ for lovesickness), whereas group 2 contains all cases with a rating > 4 (supposed as
‘relevant’ for lovesickness). Significance are two tailed. Result significant at the 0,01 level **.
emotions anger fear disgust joy panic pain grief surprise rage category
total N ≤4
0,59 0,50 0,523 0,41
0,59 0,50 0,523 0,91
0,09 0,50 0,000 ** 1,00
- 0,50 0,000 ** 0,41
0,59 0,50 0,523 0,05
0,95 0,50 0,000 ** 0,05
0,95 0,50 0,000 ** 0,36
0,64 0,50 0,286 0,50
0,50 0,50 1,000 (b) No significant differences were found between the sexes. exact
significance - 28 - 7.1.2 Psychology
(a) Which changes within the emotional status of the participants can be observed
Therefore Spearman’s correlation was conducted between the 15 subscales of the
EWL (activation, concentration, deactivation, sleepiness, dizziness, extroversion,
introversion, self-confidence, elation, excitement, sensibility, anger, fearfulness,
depression, dreaminess) and the time elapsed since separation (see table. 12). Table 12: Spearman’s correlation between time lag since separation
and EWL-subscales. All levels of significance are two tailed.
Correlation is significant at the 0,01 level **.
since separation subscales depression extroversion introversion concentration self-confidence elation N
exact significance 22
0,000 ** ** ** ** ** ** A significant correlation for following EWL subscales with time elapsed since
separation (in months) could be discovered : depression, extroversion, introversion,
concentration, independence and elation. - 29 - In addition, interactions between the 15 subscales were calculated. 105 correlations
were conducted utilising a Bonferroni corrected level of significance p=0,0004. Table
13 shows only the significant correlation.
Table 13: Spearman’s correlation between different subscales. Two tailed significance p=0,000.
self-confidence sensibility excitement 0,69 introversion sleepiness selfconfidence 0,72
0,70 -0,77 elation 0,69
0,70 0,80 -0,70 -0,72 -0,69
0,72 (b) The role of self reported ‘emotional intimacy’.
Hypothesis I: No predictions for emotional status, except depression (see c, Hypothesis III).
Hypothesis II: The higher the degree of closeness between partners the longer the relationship
No significant Spearman’s correlation could be found between 15 EWL-subscales and
emotional intimacy, not even for depression.
No significant Spearman’s correlation between closeness and duration of the
relationship was found.
An additional Spearman’s correlation was performed for closeness and time
elapsed since abandonment. A non-significant trend was discovered, showing the
longer the time elapsed since separation, the higher closeness was reported to be
(r=0.38, p=0.07, N=22).
What part does depression play in lovesickness?
Hypothesis I: Subjects with lovesickness are in a depression-like situation. Therefore, the more
recently separation has occurred, the more depressed the subjects are.
Hypothesis II: Does the duration of the relationships function as an intervening variable? The
longer the relationship lasted, the more depressed the subjects are.
Hypothesis III: Does emotional intimacy have an effect on the score for depression? Was the
higher the intimacy, the higher the score for depression?
A significant correlation (Spearman) between the score for depression and time
elapsed since separation could be discovered (r=-0.438, p=0.042). The shorter the time
lag, the higher the score for depression.
No significant correlation could be found for duration of relationship and
depression score. Only a non-significant trend for depression and closeness could be
discovered (r=0.32, p=0.13, N=22). - 30 - (d) Are there differences between the sexes concerning point ‘a’ and/or ‘b’ and/or
After conducting a ‘Kolmogorov Smirnov two sample test’, neither in point ‘a’ nor in
‘b’ and ‘c’ were significant differences between the sexes discovered.
(e) How is Suicide (suicidal ideation) related to lovesickness.
Hypothesis I: Suicidal thoughts should play a major part in lovesickness. Table 14: Suicidal ideation and related percentages. percentage Did suicidal thoughts come up
immediately after the separation?
45,5 % Table 14 shows that 45.5 % answered the question ‘Did suicidal thoughts come up
immediately after the separation?’ with ‘yes’, 54.5 % with ‘no’. After performing a
‘Kolmogorov Smirnov two sample test’, no significant differences between the sexes
The selection of the EWL subscales, correlated with behavioural data, were based on
the results in point 7.1.2 (a) (see table 14 and 15) and on the interest in the impact of
depression on behavioural changes. Besides depression only those subscales were
taken into consideration which correlated with time elapsed since abandonment (see
table 15). The subcale introversion was the only one of the subscales that showed no
interdependencies with any other subscales, apart from extroversion (see table 12).
188.8.131.52.1 Nonverbal behaviour
(a) How are changes in emotional status related to changes in nonverbal behaviour,
especially to depression?
Quality features (emphasis, duration, speed and total number) of movement units decrease in
amount with increasing depression. - 31 - 184.108.40.206.1.1 Single movement unit analysis
Values for quality features were calculated for every single movement unit.
Table 15: Correlations between features of movement quality (single
unit) and depression scores. All levels of significance are two-tailed.
Correlation is significant at the 0,01 level **. Correlation is significant at the
0,05 level *.
number of movements
per time emphasis speed duration N
exact significance 22
0,027 Figure 5: Multiple scatter
plot of duration, speed and
emphasis of single
movement units against
depression score. See table 15
for correlation coefficients. Firstly, Spearman’s correlation between quality features and depression scores were
conducted (see table 15). Significant results concerning 3 features could be found.
Emphasis, speed and duration were correlated negatively with depression score. No
correlation could be found for number of movements and depression score. Figure 5
shows the corresponding multiple scatter plot. In none of the variables (emphasis,
speed and duration) could significant differences between the sexes be discovered
(‘Kolmogorov Smirnov two sample test’). - 32 -
Controlling the effect of ‘time passed since separation (time)’ on depression score
Pearson’s correlation was performed. Therefore quality features were correlated with
‘time’ (see table 16). Only emphasis and speed yielded a significant correlation.
Table 16: Pearson’s correlations between features of movement quality
(single unit) and time. All levels of significance are two tailed. Correlation is
significant at the 0,01 level **. Correlation is significant at the 0,05 level *.
since separation parameters
exact significance number of movements
per time emphasis speed duration 22
0,258 220.127.116.11.1.2 Analysis of quality features within the movement flow 1,200
emphasis greyvalues changes 1,000 0,800
rel. maximum 0,400 rel. minimum 0,200 0,000
1 10 19 28 37 46 55 frames 64 73 82 91 100 Figure 6: Parameters used for
analysis of movement flow; these
are emphasis, speed and expression
(number of relative minima and
maxima). For additional analysis, values of quality features were calculated over the whole
sampling period. Three different parameters were used for correlation: emphasis,
expression (number of relative minima and maxima) and speed (see figure 6). No
significant correlation could be discovered either between quality features and
depression score or between quality features and ‘time’. - 33 - 18.104.22.168.2 Prosodic of speech
(b) Quality features (emphasis, duration, speed and total number) of speech units decrease in
amount with increasing depression.
22.214.171.124.2.1 Single speech unit analysis
Here, too, Spearman’s correlation between the 4 quality features of single speech
units and depression scores was performed. In this case only duration of units
yielded a significant correlation (r= -0.622, p=0.002). Quality features were also, as
previously, correlated with ‘time’. No significant correlation could be found.
126.96.36.199.2.2 Analysis of quality features within the speech flow
Table 17: Pearson’s correlation between features of speech quality (speech
flow) and ‘time’. All levels of significance are two-tailed.
since separation parameters emphasis expression speed N
exact significance 22
0,258 No significant results were obtained through correlation of speech quality features
and depression. Correlations with ‘time’ are shown in table 17. Emphasis and
expression are significantly correlated with ‘time’. Speed shows a trend towards a
positive correlation (r=0.41, p=0.069) with ‘time’. No significant differences between
the sexes were discovered in any calculations.
Neither single unit analysis nor integration analysis of behaviour and speech data in
relation to introversion scores showed any significant results. In this case changes of
introversion scores over time were not expressed through changes in movement
quality. - 34 - 7.2 Hypotheses – second level
Before conducting any statistics, additional calculations were applied to results from
the rating test (‘face test’).
7.2.1 Index for difference within a pair (Id).
I) For all 29 rating items (RI) a sex specific mean was calculated.
II) For every item, and for both mates separately, the difference from its sex
specific mean was calculated.
III) For each pair of (ex)mates, a subtotal of differences was calculated for each
IV) For each pair, all item subtotals were subsumed under one single value, the
index for difference.
7.2.2 Controlling for ‘smiling faces’
The sample of faces (n=40) used for this rating test was very heterogeneous. One half
of the sample (participants of the study) contained rather neutral photo portraits,
which had been taken by the researcher. The other half consisted of photo portraits
brought by the participants, showing the (ex)mates in very different situations and
moods, often with smiling faces.
It is known that smiling can function as an intervening variable that influences
rating processes. For example, smiling faces are judged as more attractive than not
A Mann-Whitney-Test was performed to control whether in one half of the
photographs there are more ‘smiling faces’ than in the other. The test showed no
significant results (n=40, U=146.5, p=0.154); ‘smiling faces’ are distributed randomly
between the two halves.
7.2.3 The hypotheses
(a) Are there similarities between the (ex)mates?
Hypothesis: Correlation coefficients between rating items within the pairs differ in strengths.
After performing Spearman’s correlation, none of the rating items were significantly
correlated (within pairs).
(b) Does similarity have an impact on the duration of the relationship?
Hypothesis: The higher the similarity (Id) between mates is, the longer the relationship lasted.
No significant Pearson’s correlation between Id and duration could be discovered. - 35 - (c) Does ‘mate quality’ play a part in the decision to leave the relationship (post hoc)?
To test this hypothesis, a key variable, in sociobiological terms, for mate quality was
used – attractiveness. The sample was divided into two sub-groups, in more
attractive and less attractive subjects. Those two groups were tested against ‘leavers’
and ‘leavees’ (the left ones) in a chi-square test, first for both sexes and then for each
All three chi-square test were not significant, although an interesting trend was
observed (Table 18 and Figure 7).
Table 18: Leavers are compared with ‘leavees’ according
to attractiveness. Values represent total percent. Figure 7
shows corresponding graph for all cases.
all cases less attractive
males less attractive
females less attractive 28,6 %
18,2 % 21,4 %
22,7 % percentage of cases - total percent 50
40 all cases
0 leavers leavees (left ones) more attractive 28,6 21,4 less attractive 19 31 Figure 7: Comparison of attractiveness between
leavers and leavees. Differences are not
significant (chi-square-test, p=0.217), but a trend
was discovered. The leavers show a higher
percentage of more attractive subjects than the
leavees. Looking at the results for ‘all cases’ (Table 18) the trend shows that the leavers
represent a higher percentage (28,6 %) of more attractive subjects than the leavees
(21,4 %). More evidence shows the results for ‘males’ (leavers 25 %, leavees 15%). The
results for the ‘females’ show a slight trend in the same direction but less strong than
that in the ‘males’. - 36 - (8) S U M M A R Y - D I S C U S S I O N - C O N C L U S I O N S
8.1 What is new in this study?
(1) Systematic study of ‘Lovesickness’
(2) Multi-level approach (behaviour – emotion – cognition)
(3) Alternative behavioural methodology
(4) Introducing ‘Broken Heart Syndrome BHS’
(5) Adaptive value of BHS
(6) BHS and therapy
8.1.1 Systematic study
This study has attempted to employ a systematic approach to the ‘broken heart’
phenomenon (in German ‘Liebeskummer’). The approach is systematic in the sense
of subject choice (restrictions to age, duration of relationship and time passed since
abandonment) and of the definition of the phenomenon investigated.
8.1.2 Multi-level approach
The scientific approach adopted covered all three traditional areas of behavioural
research (cognition, emotion and behaviour). A wide range of starting points was
established to grab facts about a vague psychological phenomenon.
8.1.3 Alternative behavioural methodology
A non-semantic approach to behavioural analysis was chosen which yielded
information about an important state of the human psyche. For the analysis we chose
a basic feature of human behaviour, motion. Specifically, we monitored the changes
of motion energy via computer (AMA and MED).
8.1.4 Introducing the Broken Heart Syndrome (BHS)
According to Psychrembels definition of syndrome
Syn|drom (gr. συνδροµος mitlaufend, begleitend) n: (engl.) syndrome;
Symptomkomplex; Gruppe von Krankheitsanzeichen, die für ein best.
Krankheitsbild mit meist uneinheitlicher od. unbekannter Ätiologie bzw.
Pathogenese charakteristisch sind.
[...group of symptoms which are characteristic for a certain clinical picture with
irregular or unknown aetiology res. pathogenesis.]
Psychrembel 257th edition 1994 - 37 - We would classify lovesickness as a syndrome, the Broken Heart Syndrome (BHS),
which best describes the situation of the bereaved after the loss of a romantic
relationship. This syndrome includes elements of the ‘grief process’, in particular the
‘major depression episode’, and is accompanied by suicidal thoughts and
behavioural changes, specifically behaviour becomes less expressive.
8.1.5 Adaptive value of the BHS
188.8.131.52 Emotions as communicators
In psychological terms which employ a semantic definition, emotions are defined as
a ‘fundamental motivating system’; they are those ‘processes of personality which
attach sense and meaning to the human existence’ (IZARD 1994 p.63). Biological
theories of communication, which make use of a pragmatic definition, argue that
emotions, because they are trigger signals, have primarily a communicative function.
A major process of any communicative act is the manipulation of the other (DAWKINS
& KREBS 1978). The predisposition to this is grounded in the fact that the display and
interpretation of basic emotions are universal to all humans (GRAMMER 1993, p.103
and reference therein EKMAN 1984) and that emotions can have a manipulative
intent. Thus if subject A displays an emotion to subject B, A tries to manipulate
subject B’s actions according to A’s intentions.
The display of an emotion lets the sender switch into a state more easily
decipherable by the receiver. Therefore, the sender becomes more assessable for the
receiver. The sender signals being ‘reliable’, in the sense of being readable. This
readability should be a major criteria for choosing a social partner for any further,
reciprocal social interactions, for example, cooperation. Emotions can only work as
‘manipulators’ if they channel communication processes in this way. Emotions thus
have an adaptive value.
184.108.40.206 Grief and Bereavement
So-called ‘negative’ emotional complexes like grief are accompanied by shame and
guilt. For the most part, they are designated as ‘senseless’ emotions which should be
avoided. In the therapeutic situation it is very difficult to motivate the clients and to
sensitise them for the ‘positive powers’ of their negative stance. In the literature the
‘function’ of grief and related emotions have been extensively reported. These are
mostly seen as a coping strategy: individual adaptation processes to replace the lost
object (IZARD 1994, see reference therein BOWLBY 1960, 1961, 1963). In a broader sense,
Averil speculated about the adaptive value of grief. He stated that:
Grief is a biological reaction the evolutionary function of which is to ensure
group cohesiveness in species where a social form of existence is necessary for
survival. This is accomplished by making separation from the group, or from
specific members of the group, an extremely stressful event both
psychologically and physiologically.
Averil 1968, p. 729 As previously mentioned, any of the existing emotions can serve the purpose of
communication. Thus grief, apart from effecting individual adjustment to loss, also - 38 - functions as a communicative sign. It signals the readability and reliability of a
person. In addition, it can elicit empathy and help from others. In this sense, grief
would be seen as adaptive, too.
Many theories suggest that different forms of ‘depression’ are evolutionarily
adaptive. BISCHOF 1993 (pp. 33-57) speaks of depression as a ‘reassurance strategy’
via generation of a ‘super stimuli’ that evokes parental behaviour. AUBERT 1993
(pp.57-65) discusses the functionality of depression in relation to rank theory. He
talks about the stabilising effect that the promotion of appeasement behaviour has
for the social group. STEVENS & PRICE 1996 (pp. 57-81) discuss depression in a similar
context. They write that ‘[t]he reason why depression is adaptive, is precisely
because it promotes adjustment to attachment loss and loss of rank both at the same
220.127.116.11 Functionality of BHS
If one recognises that emotions in general (positive and negative) and in particular
the display of these emotions, and that even affective disorders like depression have
an adaptive value; and if BHS is a ‘special case of bereavement’ or grief reaction,
complicated by a major depression episode, then we can conclude that BHS has an
adaptive value (ontogenetic and phylogenetic) as well.
Thus BHS and it’s related depression could be a strategy for the re-adjustment of
ones self-image and in a more biological sense for the re-evaluation of ones ‘mate
8.1.6 BHS and therapy
Nevertheless, BHS can indicate a therapeutic intervention if it turns maladaptive for
the individual. This aspect of any case of BHS should not be minimised.
Maladaptation can be caused by, for example, a weak or hostile social network, or by
additional psychic disorders of the subjects. A general problem seems to be that in
comparison to traditional cultures there are no social ‘bereavement rituals’ that the
‘bereaved of today’ can go through. Instead, the bereaved often seeks refuge in
8.2. Discussion of the results in depth
8.2.1 Basic emotions
The results suggested grief and pain as the emotions which predominate in
lovesickness. The fact that anger, fear, panic and rage do not differ from random
distribution between ‘relevant for lovesickness’ and ‘not relevant for lovesickness’
can be explained as resulting from an ‘I’m not sure’ answer by the participants. This
is evident for these emotions because their medians were between 4.5 and 5.0 on the
7 point scale. No statistical difference from random distribution could be found for - 39 - ‘surprise’ either, but 64% of all cases are found in the group ‘relevant for
In this case it can be assumed that most of the participants were surprised by the
decision of their (ex)partners to leave the relationship. So is there a ‘digitaloverwhelming-effect’? Yes, if one understands digital in the sense that the decision to
separate is not drawn out over a longer period of time, but is a very spontaneous
one. The ‘leavees’ (the abandoned), not having any time to adjust, are overwhelmed
Another explanation could be the ‘disbelief-effect’ (similar to the denial phase in the
bereavement process, BOWLBY 1994), an outcome of constantly neglecting
smouldering conflicts within the relationship (HATFIELD & RAPSON 1993, p.326; see
reference therein: RUSBULT 1987). The disbelief in separation is then experienced as
surprise through the ‘leavee’.
Over all, lovesickness is best represented as a ‘cocktail’ with different portions of
grief, pain, anger, fear, panic, rage and surprise.
The instant emotional state of the participants was recorded and the subscales of the
psychological test (EWL) were correlated with time elapsed since abandonment. The
results showed that ‘depression’ and ‘introversion’ decrease with time, while
‘extroversion’, ‘concentration’, ‘self-confidence’ and ‘elation’ increase with time. In
short, negative emotions are vanishing and positive emotions, in particular
motivation comes back.
8.2.3 Emotional Intimacy
No significant relationship between emotional status in general after abandonment
and the reported level of intimacy could be established. Neither could a significant
relationship between the duration of the relationship and the reported level of
intimacy be found. In addition, emotional intimacy was correlated with time elapsed
since separation (not included in results). A non-significant trend was discovered
(r=0.38, p=0.074, n=22). This result seems to be paradoxical, but it could force the
methodological conclusion that romance rather than emotional intimacy was being
measured. The longer the period of time elapsed since abandonment, the brighter the
memories of the relationship become (see HATFIELD & RAPSON 1993, p.418).
Clinically, the subjects’ emotional situation with lovesickness is very similar to the
‘Major Depressive Episode’ described in the DSM III. The DSM III reports that:
Uncomplicated bereavement is distinguished from a Major Depressive Episode
and is not considered a mental disorder even when associated with the full
depressive syndrome. However, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness,
suicidal ideation, marked functional impairment or psychomotorical
retardation, or prolonged duration suggests that bereavement is complicated by
a Major Depressive Episode.
DSM III 1987, p.222 - 40 - The Textbook of Psychiatry (HALES et al. 1994, p.489-490), 2nd Edition also describes
bereavement as an uncomplicated process, but concedes that it can turn into a
‘complicated mode’. They put ‘uncomplicated Bereavement’ into the category of
‘Disorders of Mood Yet Not Mood Disorders’, which only can be separated by
differential diagnosis. Contradictory lovesickness seems to be a case of ‘complicated
bereavement’ from the beginning on.
However, we relied on the current suggestion that lovesickness is associated
with depression, so it was considered to be a ‘continuous phenomenon’. This means
that participants were labelled to be ‘more or less’ depressed, rather than ‘depressed’
versus ‘not depressed’ (see discussion in GILBERT 1992). We believe that this
approach would be more suitable for looking at lovesickness, because it shows
changes in emotional status (actually depression) more clearly and differentially.
As predicted, subjects with lovesickness are in a depression-like situation, and
scores for depression decreased over time. The shorter the period of time elapsed
since abandonment, the higher the depression scores are. The second assumption,
namely, that the duration of a relationship functions as an intervening variable, could
not be proved. The third hypothesis, that emotional intimacy controls for depression,
could not be proved statistically either. Only a non-significant trend towards this
assumption could be reported.
In the case of suicidal thoughts only descriptive statistics were used. Nevertheless,
none of the participants told about suicide attempts, a considerable percentage
(45,5%) reported having had suicidal thoughts after abandonment. During the
interview all subjects spoke of being ‘down in the dumps’ or having felt a complete
emptiness; in short, they were stunned by the loss. This percentage corroborates
other recent findings (GAHLEITNER-SENGER 1992).
The first phase after the loss seems to be very similar to the initial phase of the
bereavement or grief process (BOWLBY 1994, p.81ff; GAHLEITNER-SENGER 1992). In this
phase the ‘emotional system’ undergoes a severe destabilisation, precipitated by the
event. Suicidal thoughts in this phase must be taken seriously. Whether homeostasis
is regained or not will depend on various environmental constraints (inputs from inand outside). In most cases, suicidal thoughts can be buffered by the system and they
do not turn into suicide attempts.
In short, and from a psychological point of view, lovesickness seems to be a special
case of bereavement, complicated by a major depressive episode. If symptoms are
sufficiently severe, people should undergo a therapeutic intervention. In this sample,
only one of the participants had consulted a psychologist. Thus, for the most part
time was the great healer.
One of the objectives of this study was to integrate behavioural aspects into the
‘psychological’ phenomenon of lovesickness. The assumptions underlying this
objective followed the framework of Ciompi’s ‘Affektlogik’.
Another aim of this study was to reapply the ‘non-semantic approach’ (see
GRAMMER et al. 1996 for first introduction) rather than a repertoire analysis to - 41 - nonverbal behaviour. This was based on computerised analysis of videotapes
(Automatic Movie Analysis, AMA) and the description of movement quality and
quantity (Motion Energy Detection, MED). Simple physical parameters were used to
describe movements (number of units per time, emphasis, speed and duration).
18.104.22.168 Nonverbal behaviour
Depression was picked out as a very prominent indicator for monitoring changes in
the emotional status of the participants over time. In a nutshell, higher scores of
depression were expressed through reduced motion energy rather than reduced
motion quantity (movements were less emphatic, shorter and slower).
So far, the results of this study are comparable with existing data (FISCH et
al.1983, PEDERSEN et al. 1988). Deviating from these other studies is the result that
participants do not show any significant changes in movement quantity. Participants
with lower scores for depression showed no difference in movements per time
compared to subjects with higher depression scores. Both former studies reported
that the more subjects were depressed or the smaller the recovery from depression
was, the less behaviour was shown:
Upon recovery, patients spent more time in motion, displayed a more complex
pattern of movement, and initiated and terminated movement activity more
rapidly than when they were depressed.
Fisch et al. 1983, p.316
In other words, depression seems to be characterised by general inactivity and
restricted social interaction.
Pedersen et al. 1988, p.325 According to current theory,
psychiatric patient [in case of depression] tend to show a reduced motor
Fisch et al. 1983, p.308 Additional computations showed (in contradiction to GRAMMER et al. 1996) that no
physical interrelation between movements per time, size (emphasis), duration and
speed could be found. Therefore, movements per time are considered to be a ‘real
variable’. Instead, a strong correlation between movements per time and total time
spent in motion per time (r=0.89, p=0.000, N=22) was found, showing that subjects
who make more movements spend more time in motion.
This study thus suggests that in the case of depression people behave
‘differently’. The rate of behaviour (movement) is neither decreased nor increased, it
remains unchanged. Thus depression is being expressed through a changed
(decreased) movement quality or motion energy.
If the movement flow was analysed as a whole, both effects (depression scores
and ‘time’) on ‘quality features’ vanished.
AMA and MED work with ‘low level processing algorithms’ to obtain
information from changes in motion patterns. These basic processes are very similar
to processes of visual perception as used by the human brain, which are well - 42 - reported in the literature (CARNEY et al. 1987, DEYOE & VAN ESSEN 1988, LIVINGSTONE
& HUBEL 1988, VAN ESSEN & GALLANT 1994).
Therefore, for AMA and MED single unit analysis of movements seems to be more
appropriate than the analysis of the whole movement flow. The results would again
suggest that our cognitive system can extract information about movement qualities,
in particular, ‘behaviour’ in general, through low-level processing (see GRAMMER et
al. 1996 for results). The conclusion would be that quality of movement provides an
important information carrier.
22.214.171.124 Prosodics of speech
Speech analysis, in particular assessing quality features, was conducted with
AMA/MED as well. Both single units and flow of speech were analysed. While
analysis of nonverbal behaviour showed consistent results when analysing single
units of movement, speech tended to be treated best as a flow of speech (envelope).
Performing correlations with quality features yielded another difference in the
analysis of motion, namely, that in cases of speech, ‘time elapsed since
abandonment’, rather than actual scores of depression, brought significant results.
In short, speech flow became more emphatic, expressive and faster, the longer
the time elapsed since separation.
8.2.7 Second level hypothesis
In this second block, the hypothesis based on sociobiological theory concerning
criteria of mate choice were tested.
126.96.36.199 The impact of similarity
Surprisingly not a single significant correlation between any of the rating items
(n=29) within the pairs was found. Nor could any relevant impact of similarity
between the mates on the duration of the relationship be discovered. According to
positive assortative mating strategy, mates are similar in different parameters, like
physiognomy, age, social status, religion, social behaviour, attractiveness etc. In a
vast number of studies (see GRAMMER 1993 and references therein) these ‘correlations
between mates’ were found.
In this study, none of these assumptions could be proved; on the contrary, all
relationships in this sample had broken up. Thus this ‘negative result’ would
corroborate indirectly positive assortative mating strategy. The fact that there is no
differentiated effect of similarity on the duration of a relationship leads to the
conclusion that there are early phase decisions as to whether a ‘young’ relationship is
to be terminated or not. Thus the decision on whether or not to leave a relationship at
an early stage is attributable to a base level of similarity between partners before the
relationship begins, rather than in a growing adaptability in the relationship itself
(CRADOCK 1991), which guarantees prolongation, stability and satisfaction in an
already established relationship.
188.8.131.52 ‘Mate quality’
The post hoc hypothesis stated that mate quality played a role in the decision to leave
the relationship. If assortative mating occurs and similarity is the reason for it, then a
mismatch of such similarities would result in a break up between mates. In this view, - 43 - the mate with the higher ‘mate quality’ should be the one to leave the relationship.
To test this, attractiveness was examined as a specific factor; the results suggested a
trend towards confirmation of this assumption. In both sexes, those who were more
attractive, i.e., those who represented higher ‘mate quality’ in sociobiological terms,
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(A) Questionnaire sheet
INTERVIEWBOGEN - FRAGEBOGEN
W Nr. M (2) Alter
(3) Student Y N (4) Woher Wien Anders (4.1) Wie lange in Wien?
(5) Wie viele Beziehungen hast Du bis jetzt gehabt.
(5.1) Wie viele davon haben länger als 2 Monate gedauert.
(5.2) In wie vielen Beziehungen hat dich dein Partner verlassen.
(6) Hast Du derzeit eine Beziehung. N Y (6.1) Seit wann (Dauer bis jetzt)
DIE LETZTE BEZIEHUNG (> als 2 Monate !!)
(7) Wie lange ist die Trennung Deiner letzten Beziehung her.
(7.1) Wie lange hat die Beziehung gedauert.
(8) Bei welcher Gelegenheit hast Du Deine/n Partner/in kennengelernt.
(8.1) Hast Du Deine/n Partner/in schon vorher gekannt.
(9) Hast Du mit Deinem (Deiner) Partner/in zusammengelebt. Y N
(9.1) In wessen Wohnung. Ihrer Seiner Wahlweise (9.2) Wie oft habt Ihr etwas gemeinsam unternommen (konkrete Zahl).
(9.3) War es eine intime Beziehung
(9.4) Zufrieden mit Eurem Sexleben.
(9.4.1) Wie oft hattet Ihr Sex (konkrete Zahl pro Woche)
(9.4.2) Frage nach Problemen.
(184.108.40.206)Wenn JA, welche Art.
(9.5) Wie oft habt ihr Euch gesehen, telefoniert oder geschrieben (konkrete Zahl)
(9.6) War es eine intime Beziehung.
(9.7) Zufrieden mit Eurem Sexleben.
(9.5.1) Wie oft hattet Ihr Sex (konkrete Zahl pro Woche)
(9.5.2) Frage nach Problemen.
(220.127.116.11)Wenn JA, welche Art. - 50 - TRENNUNGSPARAMETER
(10) Welche Gründe hatte die Trennung.
(11) Hast Du dich in der Beziehung bevor- oder benachteiligt gefühlt.
(12.1) Wenn JA, warum.
(12) Hast Du versucht die Beziehung zu retten, nachdem Ihr Euch getrennt habt.
(12.2) Wenn JA
(12.2.1) Wie. Was hast Du getan.
(12.2.2) Wie oft bzw. wie lange.
(12.2.3) Wie hat der Partner darauf reagiert.
(12.2.4) Erfolgreich. Y N NACH DER TRENNUNG
(13) Wie ist es Dir nach der Trennung ergangen
(15.1) Was hast Du getan
(15.2) Wie hast Du versucht, die Trennung zu verarbeiten. Alleine, Freunde, Verwandte.
(15.3) Hat sich in Deiner Ernährung etwas geändert.
(14) Wie lange hat es gedauert, bist Du wieder Kontakt gesucht hast
(15) Bist Du über die Trennung schon hinweg.
(17.2) Wenn JA
(17.2.1) Wie lange hat es gedauert.
(16) Hast Du jemals dabei an Selbstmord gedacht. N Y (16.1) Wenn JA.
(16.1.1) Hast Du Hilfe aufgesucht (privat - öffentlich).
(17) Hast Du etwas durch die Trennung gelernt, das Du in der nächsten Beziehung
einbringen konntest (über Dich). Was würdest du anders machen.
(17.1) Wenn JA, was.
(18) Emotionsrating: Liebeskummer ist ... (see appendix -C-)
(19) EWL (see appendix -B-)
(20) Photo von Proband machen !!!
(21) Photo von Partner/in verlangen !!! - 51 - (B) Eigenschaftswörterliste
m w Nummer Dies ist eine Liste von Wörtern, mit denen man beschreiben kann, wie Du Dich
1.) Gehe bitte alle Wörter der Liste nacheinander durch und kreuze die entsprechende Ziffer
an 1 = gar nicht zutreffend, 2 = ein wenig, 3 = ziemlich, 4 = sehr zutreffend
2.) Denke nicht lange über das Wort nach, sondern antworte sofort und spontan.
3.) Sollte Dir die Antwort schwerfallen, so entscheide Dich für die Antwort, die am ehesten
4.) Beurteile nur, wie Du Dich augenblicklich fühlst. Es kommt nicht darauf an, wie Du Dich
allgemein oder gelegentlich fühlst.
5.) Jetzt geht’s los! 1 = gar nicht zutreffend, 2 = ein wenig, 3 = ziemlich, 4 = sehr zutreffend 1 tatkräftig 1 2 3 4 2 tiefsinnig 1 2 3 4 3 gesprächig 1 2 3 4 4 nachlässig 1 2 3 4 5 beklommen 1 2 3 4 6 unbeschwert 1 2 3 4 7 einsilbig 1 2 3 4 8 wütend 1 2 3 4 9 schläfrig 1 2 3 4 10 froh 1 2 3 4 11 ruhelos 1 2 3 4 12 wehmütig 1 2 3 4 13 resolut 1 2 3 4 14 aufgeregt 1 2 3 4 15 blendend 1 2 3 4 16 todmüde 1 2 3 4 17 glücklich 1 2 3 4 18 ungesellig 1 2 3 4 - 52 - 19 temperamentlos 1 2 3 4 20 ärgerlich 1 2 3 4 21 unermüdlich 1 2 3 4 22 depressiv 1 2 3 4 23 wachsam 1 2 3 4 24 traurig 1 2 3 4 25 erregbar 1 2 3 4 26 dösig 1 2 3 4 27 teilnahmslos 1 2 3 4 28 anhänglich 1 2 3 4 29 unglücklich 1 2 3 4 30 einsiedlerisch 1 2 3 4 31 verletzbar 1 2 3 4 32 eifrig 1 2 3 4 33 benebelt 1 2 3 4 34 sorgenfrei 1 2 3 4 35 zappelig 1 2 3 4 36 ängstlich 1 2 3 4 37 wortkarg 1 2 3 4 38 agil 1 2 3 4 39 trist 1 2 3 4 40 romantisch 1 2 3 4 41 ausgezeichnet 1 2 3 4 42 beständig 1 2 3 4 43 schutzbedürftig 1 2 3 4 44 energielos 1 2 3 4 45 unausgeglichen 1 2 3 4 46 gedankenvoll 1 2 3 4 47 unverzagt 1 2 3 4 48 arbeitslustig 1 2 3 4 49 mutlos 1 2 3 4 50 ungehalten 1 2 3 4 51 zerfahren 1 2 3 4 52 angenehm 1 2 3 4 53 abgespannt 1 2 3 4 54 gesellig 1 2 3 4 55 zermürbt 1 2 3 4 - 53 - 56 unbefangen 1 2 3 4 57 hilflos 1 2 3 4 58 gereizt 1 2 3 4 59 arbeitsam 1 2 3 4 60 gedankenverloren 1 2 3 4 61 elend 1 2 3 4 62 angsterfüllt 1 2 3 4 63 ausdauernd 1 2 3 4 64 befriedigt 1 2 3 4 65 erregt 1 2 3 4 66 angesäuselt 1 2 3 4 67 interessiert 1 2 3 4 68 abgesondert 1 2 3 4 69 unberechenbar 1 2 3 4 70 emsig 1 2 3 4 71 sorgenvoll 1 2 3 4 72 kraftlos 1 2 3 4 73 berauscht 1 2 3 4 74 betriebsam 1 2 3 4 75 trübsinnig 1 2 3 4 76 faul 1 2 3 4 77 heiter 1 2 3 4 78 träge 1 2 3 4 79 offen 1 2 3 4 80 rastlos 1 2 3 4 81 aufmerksam 1 2 3 4 82 selbstsicher 1 2 3 4 83 besinnlich 1 2 3 4 84 fahrig 1 2 3 4 85 bedauernswert 1 2 3 4 86 verärgert 1 2 3 4 87 aktiv 1 2 3 4 88 schreckhaft 1 2 3 4 89 unstetig 1 2 3 4 90 beschwingt 1 2 3 4 91 abgearbeitet 1 2 3 4 92 zutraulich 1 2 3 4 - 54 - 93 verstört 1 2 3 4 94 passiv 1 2 3 4 95 verschlossen 1 2 3 4 96 entschieden 1 2 3 4 97 unbesorgt 1 2 3 4 98 trüb 1 2 3 4 99 verträumt 1 2 3 4 100 tüchtig 1 2 3 4 101 kribbelig 1 2 3 4 102 denkfaul 1 2 3 4 103 lustig 1 2 3 4 104 bedeppert 1 2 3 4 105 menschenfreundlich 1 2 3 4 106 schwerfällig 1 2 3 4 107 frohgemut 1 2 3 4 108 ratlos 1 2 3 4 109 energisch 1 2 3 4 110 kontaktfreudig 1 2 3 4 111 empfindlich 1 2
3 4 112 versonnen 1 2 3 4 113 übermütig 1 2 3 4 114 gründlich 1 2 3 4 115 aggressiv 1 2 3 4 116 abgekapselt 1 2 3 4 117 langsam 1 2 3 4 118 freudig 1 2 3 4 119 besoffen 1 2 3 4 120 reizbar 1 2 3 4 121 schöpferisch 1 2 3 4 122 beschaulich 1 2 3 4 123 deprimiert 1 2 3 4 124 geistesabwesend 1 2 3 4 125 selbstzufrieden 1 2 3 4 126 erschöpft 1 2 3 4 127 zaghaft 1 2 3 4 128 betrübt 1 2 3 4 129 geschäftig 1 2 3 4 - 55 - 130 durchgedreht 1 2 3 4 131 gutgelaunt 1 2 3 4 132 angetrunken 1 2 3 4 133 lahm 1 2 3 4 134 schwermütig 1 2 3 4 135 nervös 1 2 3 4 136 freigiebig 1 2 3 4 137 gedrückt 1 2 3 4 138 müde 1 2 3 4 139 oppositionell 1 2 3 4 140 fröhlich 1 2 3 4 141 entschlußfähig 1 2 3 4 142 menschenscheu 1 2 3 4 143 behäbig 1 2 3 4 144 unbekümmert 1 2 3 4 145 schlaftrunken 1 2 3 4 146 düster 1 2 3 4 147 arbeitsfähig 1 2 3 4 148 verwundbar 1 2 3 4 149 träumerisch 1 2 3 4 150 zufrieden 1 2 3 4 151 einschläfernd 1 2 3 4 152 furchtsam 1 2 3 4 153 beschwipst 1 2 3 4 154 konzentriert 1 2 3 4 155 anschmiegsam 1 2 3 4 156 pessimistisch 1 2 3 4 157 lasch 1 2 3 4 158 verkrampft 1 2 3 4 159 überschwenglich 1 2 3 4 160 sentimental 1 2 3 4 161 behende 1 2 3 4 - 56 - (C) Rating of emotions, relevant for lovesickness Beschreibe bitte deinen Liebeskummer unmittelbar nach der Trennung durch
ankreuzen all dieser 9 Gefühle auf der 7-teiligen Skala.
1 = gar nicht 7 = sehr zutreffend zutreffend A Angst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 B Ekel 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 C Ärger 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 D Überraschung 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 E Freude 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 F Traurigkeit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 G Zorn 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 H Panik 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 I Schmerz 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (D) Set of 29 rating items (bipolar adjectives) used in the ‘Facetest’ (7 point scale)
01 gesellig – zurückgezogen
02 offen – verschwiegen
03 unternehmungslustig – zurückhaltend
04 freimütig – verschlossen
05 anschlußbedürftig – einzelgängerisch
06 ehrlich – unehrlich
07 hilfsbereit – egoistisch
08 bescheiden – überheblich
09 friedfertig – streitsüchtig
10 fleißig – faul
11 zuverlässig – unzuverlässig
12beharrlich – sprunghaft
13 gelassen – erregbar
14 selbstzufrieden – selbstmitleidig
15 gebildet – ungebildet
16 kreativ – unkreativ
17 intelligent – dumm
18 wirkt jugendlich – wirkt älter 19 selbstbewußt – verschüchtert
20 eigenständig – schutzbedürftig
21 frisch – abgespannt
22 froh – niedergeschlagen
23 attraktiv – unattraktiv
24 erotisch – unerotisch
25 begehrt – verschmäht
26 gesund – krank
27 modebewußt – nicht modebewußt
28 männlich – nicht männlich
29 weiblich – nicht weiblich - 57 - (11) C U R R I C U L U M V I T A E Name
Date of birth
Education 1975 – 1978
1978 – 1979
1979 – 1987
1977 – 1987
1987 – 1998 Michael Peter Bechinie
13th of April 1969 in Vienna
Married with Karin Bayer, 2 children
Primary school ‘Rothenburgstraße’ (1st – 3rd class)
Primary school Hietzinger Hauptstraße (4th class)
Secondary school emphasising mathematics and
Piano lessons at the municipal school of music MSXV
Study of biology at the University of Vienna; branch
of study: Zoology and human biology Professional
activity 1996 – 1997
1997 Working as a freelance WWW-designer
Foundation of ‘evolutnik‘ (C. Bechinie & M. Bechinie
OEG), electronic media design National
service 10/96 – 08/97 Alternative national service at the general hospital
Lainz - Vienna, Institute for Nuclear medicine ...
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